How to not be controlling
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Old 11-13-2008, 11:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How to not be controlling

One of the issues my wife and I are having is that she thinks I am controlling. First of all, that is not who I want to be, and I make every effor to not be that person, or even be perceived as that person. The problem is, she still thinks I am. I am the only breadwinner, she is a sahm, and I manage the finaces. Those are the only really clear-cut lines as far as dividing the household. It seems that any time I say anything, share my opinion, or do something, she sees it as me controlling her. I don't know if she just has this perception that I am and twists everything to that effect, or if what I am saying/doing is really controlling.

This is a major issue keeping her from making our marriage work, and I really need to find a solution to this. I am making every effort to not be that person, but I don't think it is enough. What are some of the ways I can act or things I can do to change this? For those who have been in a controlling relationship, what factors/scenarios did you see that lead to this?
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Old 11-13-2008, 12:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

This was a big issue in our marriage also. More than likely you don’t even realize you are being controlling. I didn’t. Controlling comes in different intensities. From complete freaks who micromanage every aspect of their spouse’s life to some one who simply doesn’t listen properly to their spouse and continues on their merry way doing what they think best. Some times the offended spouse will become oversensitive to this and sees everything as controlling. The best way to approach this in my opinion is to use empathy. Be as open and as honest with yourself as possible as ask how she might see your next decision. When she does accuse you of a controlling action ask her why she sees it that way. Don’t argue, it won’t do any good that’s how she perceives it. Ask her how you could have done a better job. If she offers what she would have done in this last incident look at her solution positively and comment her on it if possible. Be consistent in these actions and give it time. She has blinders on and it will take time for her to see and understand the changes. While you now control the finances would it be a good idea for you to invite her to look at the budget, retirement, next major purchase with you? Giving her some sense of input will go a long way. And she may very well bring a perspective to it you hadn’t thought about.
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Old 11-13-2008, 01:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

Good advise, and I've been through all of it already, still doing it. When it comes to the finances, I've told her many times that I will show her what's going on and where we are at. I know that is one of the ways she feels controlled, like she needs to ask me what account to use for groceries, gas, etc... I told her if she wanted to work on it with me, she could make the same decisions as me without having to ask.
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Old 11-13-2008, 01:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

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I don't know if she just has this perception that I am and twists everything to that effect, or if what I am saying/doing is really controlling.
It could be either or a combination of both.

If you share your opinion on how something should be or should have been done, even if on your part you were not intending to be critical, she may perceive it as you being overly critical and/or non-accepting of how she does things. This can lead to feeling disrespected (that she will never do anything good enough in your eyes) and unappreciated (can't he just be positive that I got this thing done instead of making me have negative feelings about it).

If you are responding with an opinion that she asked you for...what color should I paint the bathroom?...that's another story.

Think of it this way: As a SAHM, anything she does within the household is her job and she most likely would like to hear that she's doing a great job. If negative or alternative opinions are being sent her way, it's like getting a bad performance appraisal over and over...kinda makes you want to look for another job!

Do you have some examples that she considers controlling on your part?
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Old 11-13-2008, 01:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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One example from just this weekend. We were on a road trip to Pittsburgh and she pulled out the dvd player and headphones. I asked her to try it once without the headphones to see if the speakers were loud enough to overcome the road noise. She immediately came back and said I was trying to control her and wouldn't let her listen to it the way she wanted to. In my mind, I was asking her to try it quick, then go about her business.
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Old 11-13-2008, 02:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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She immediately came back and said I was trying to control her and wouldn't let her listen to it the way she wanted to. In my mind, I was asking her to try it quick, then go about her business.
Classic case of two people being off beam with each other in communications. First off, why did you ask her to try without the head phones first? Did you want to listen to the show? Did you not want her to tune you out? What prompted you? Be honest you’re your self. Again she is seeing everything as controlling because that is what she is used to. Can you bring this up now as a discussion point to try to better understand why this made her feel this way? I’m not taking her side in this, I see it as an innocent request also but you need to understand how she sees it.

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Old 11-13-2008, 02:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

I had two reasons for asking - 1) to see if it would go loud enough (diesel pickup), and 2) we had a friend with us that would have been a little left out watching the moving without sound. I stood to gain nothing out of it - I was driving and couldn't watch anyway.

I plan on bringing that up either tonight or tomorrow with the "what more can i do to fix this" approach. Tonight is date night at home, so this topic may muddy the waters a bit tonight.
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Old 11-13-2008, 06:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

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It seems that any time I say anything, share my opinion, or do something, she sees it as me controlling her. I don't know if she just has this perception that I am and twists everything to that effect, or if what I am saying/doing is really controlling.
Translation: She's feeling insigificant, uncertain about her life and she's crying out for love. She's testing you if you really love her or if you'll run like a coward. Now I do sense you honestly love her, but like most men, you're clueless on what to do and possibly scared at times. I've been there myself Women have very indirect ways of speaking to men. The trick is to not to listen so closely to what she's verbally saying, but to feel what she's feeling and working out what that means.

I should also mention that while she's testing you, at the same time she's making an indirect request for you to stand up and meet her needs. Whatever she throws at you, just let it slide off and give her more love. Be her rock, show her a strength and a love that she's never seen before. Reassure her that the man that she chose to be with for the rest of her life is the correct man.

Do this well my friend and you'll see her light up with happiness again.
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Old 11-13-2008, 10:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

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Originally Posted by Greatermindset View Post
Translation: She's feeling insigificant, uncertain about her life and she's crying out for love.
In regards to the finances, i think this is definitely part of the issue.

I perceive my H as controlling and the car trip situation sounds like dialog between my H and I. It sounds controlling b/c you told her what to do. and im guessing you give 'suggestions' regularly without even knowing it.

I think you should run your requests through your head and if the phrase "you should..." is anywhere in the suggestion, even implied, then drop it.
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Last edited by Blanca; 11-13-2008 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 11-14-2008, 08:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

I know the controlling issue is part of what is holding her back. I am trying to address every issue that I know of, and make sure she knows that I am trying, so hopefully I can keep things from going too far.

Last edited by Hurting08; 12-01-2008 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 11-14-2008, 03:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

Hurting08, I specifically posted in this thread as I believe it's the source of the problem. The other man is just a reaction to what is not being dealt with. When a couple in a relationships needs are not being met, they'll try to meet them by external means. This has an effect to break down the relationship the couple has together even further cause they've stopped relating to each other.

The obvious signs is they start withdrawing from each other because their needs aren't being met. It's very subtle at first, but as less and less needs are being met, they start to yearn for them more and more. So when an opportunity comes by that can meet their needs, it becomes very attractive and they're drawn towards it. Many times unconsciously too without meaning to hurt the other partner.

Meeting needs externally can happen in many ways, they may withdraw to other friends, kids, family, jobs, games, hobbies, alchohol, drugs, as a few examples.

To meet her needs you must aim to fulfill they following 6 needs on a level of 8-10.

1. Certainty
2. Variety
3. Significance
4. Connection and Love
5. Growth
6. Contribution

Meet these needs in her eyes, not yours on a score of 8-10 on each one of them and you'll have a relationship like you've never experience before.

How do you meet those needs? That's a very good question. The best way is to ask questions and to answer them truthfully and honestly.

Questions guide you to the answers you seek, but make sure they're quality questions. Ask lousy questions and you'll get lousy answers.

So some examples of a good quality questions are:

In your wifes eyes, how can you give your wife certainty on a level 8-10 to meet her needs?

In your wifes eyes, how can you spice up the relationship with variety and have a whole lot of fun in the process?

In your wifes eyes, how can you regain your wifes trust and make her feel like she's the most important person in the world, while respecting you as "HER" man?

These are just some examples of the quality questions you can ask. You may be able to come up with better ones. Keep asking questions that address meeting all the 6 human needs. Once you're able to fulfill all 6 on a level 8-10, there is no need for her to meet her needs externally.

See the difference in approach? One is in reaction while another (this one specifically) is in response.

You can claim your woman and your marrage back if you're commited and that is what you desire. The truth is, this is what you want and the kind of person you are (and many other things like caring and loving), otherwise you wouldn't have stood up as a man and asked for help.

So I hope that gives you enough insight to what is really going on so you can start dealing with the real problems and not just reacting to them. If the community can help out in any other ways, just let us know

Last edited by Greatermindset; 11-14-2008 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:30 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

controlling is in the eye of the beholder. kinda like abuse, or at work, sexual harrassment. if you think you're being controlled, abused, or harrassed, you are. it's that person's feelings. don't try to minimize it or throw it away. if she feels controlled, take the conversation towards a "do you think" mode. "do you think we could have the speakers on so (passenger) can hear the movie too?" "do you think we can go to (a different grocery store) because i heard they have great produce."

then rephrase it by saying "do you think that's a good idea?"

then, guess what...she is in control, making the decision.
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Old 11-15-2008, 09:56 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

greatermindset - I'll have to think a bit on that one and get back to you. Busy weekend here.

Last edited by Hurting08; 12-01-2008 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 11-15-2008, 05:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to not be controlling

As i was walking with my H today, and he told me to do something, i realized what makes the communication feel controlling. it is that his remark comes in a "you should..." tone, but more so, its his reaction if i dont do what he wants. he gets angry or annoyed. that's the part that feels the most controlling.

I know you have a lot of other things going on for you right now, but this just dawned on me and i wanted to share it.
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Old 11-17-2008, 03:37 PM   #15 (permalink)
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After thinking about this for a while, here is where I see each of these. This is all my opinion, and how I see what her responses would be. Anybody can feel free to let me know where I may be wrong or lacking in any of these. I'm open to all suggestions.

1. Certainty
me: 4, her: 6
I think you all know my reasons, but as far as she's concerned, she's afraid I'm going to kick her out because of what she's done/doing. She knows I'm a stable husband, and she's pretty sure I'm someone she can count on to be there when she needs me. In our conversations recently she has questioned some of my actions as if I'm running around. I feel she may just think I'm doing the same things she is.

2. Variety
me: 6, her: 4
This one is tough to accomplish. She is a SAHM, so she really doesn't have any variety throughout the day, and even with occasional date nights, the night time doesn't change much either. With three kids and not a very large "fun" budget, this is difficult to change. I am contantly searching for more ideas for this, but she ususally isn't receptive to any of them.

3. Significance
me: 4, her: 3
I know she doesn't feel significant. She is the SAHM that works around the house all day and has nobody there to appreciate it. I do my best to help with everything I can and comment about the things I notice, but that's only at night after she puts in a full day. I know there has to be more to it and more ways I can make her feel more significant, but this is one of the areas that I may need help in.

4. Connection and Love
me: 2, her: ???
I really don't know where she stands here. After everything she's done, I still show affection throughout the day, and I still try to show the love that a husband should. I know she has put up a wall, and maybe affraid of openning the door again, so I feel much of what I put out doesn't get there, and therefor she is still missing that.

5. Growth
me: 4, her: 4
Nothing seems to be growing at this time. We are at that stagnant point in our lives where we have three young kids and a hectic schedule, so we never seem to be advancing anywhere.

6. Contribution
me: 9/2, her: 3/6
I can see this one as two ways, the first number is contribution to the household, and the second for our marriage.
For the household, I know I started off on a bad foot, but much of that was just preference. When we got married, if there were two plates in the sink after dinner, I would say wait until tomorrow when there are four, then wash them. She would say the need to be clean before we leave the kitchen. Unfortuantely, that stage set her standard for the rest of the marriage, and I haven't been able to climb out of that rut. Over the last few years and especially in the last six months, I have really stepped it up and done way more than my share of chores. Although in her mind, she still can't see that. If something is done, she still thinks she did it even though I did. The only time I get credit is if she sees me doing something.

As far as the marriage, she started checking out and running away just before she ran into TOM. Since then, she's avoided the issue thinking it will go away, and now 7 years later, the issue hasn't gone away, but gotten worse. She still hasn't checked back in and really started to address the issues and work on our marriage. She is still looking out the back door to see if TOM is waiting, and until she can let that go, she won't start truely working on us. For the way she sees me, she can't understand why I would be so committed to our marriage, and doesn't believe that I'm not doing some of the same things she is.
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